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Issue 105, September/October 2007

The Gaza Crunch

The Hamas coup in Gaza has thrown Israeli PM Ehud Olmert into bed with Palestinian President Abu Mazen. They are racing to produce a document of principles toward a two-state solution, which they hope to present in Washington in November. Neither is strong enough at home to push an agreement through, so there is talk of a "shelf" accord, that is, one that will sit on the shelf until someone is strong enough. Welcome, says our editorial, to Never Never Land.

Here's another example of Never Never thinking: 'You want to get rid of Hamas in Gaza? Make Gazans miserable, then they'll overthrow them.' And so, in Gaza, the Economic Crunch is on. The tactic, Gazans tell us, will indeed make people miserable—and more extreme. As for the West Bank, Checkpoints block economic development. An example shows us the process in detail, as we visit a factory that produces Soap for Sindyanna.

Israel's High Court, with typical ambivalence, has ordered a change in the route of the Fence where it parted the people of Bil'in from their land. For them it was a Partial Triumph: the Court placed fait accompli above principle, not changing the route where Israelis had already built. On other issues, despite its sorry record of compromising justice, the Court has served as impediment against a racist Knesset. Daniel Friedmann, Olmert's Man in the Justice System, is now attempting to remove the impediment.

A law of 1994 created two Health services: one for the solvent, another for the poor. Most Jews belong to the former, most Arabs to the latter. Between official negligence and popular unawareness, the Arabs in Israel are sicker, we find, and live less.

We had hoped to end on a happy note: negotiating for a million workers it has never tried to organize, the Histadrut has reached a Pension agreement with the employers. On a closer look, unfortunately, this turns out to be a Scam. As for the jobless: after failing with the Wisconsin pilot, the government is trying a new version. The changes, we find, are Cosmetic. The problem remains: No Jobs.

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